Adhering to a Mediterranean diet is associated not only with a lower body mass index (BMI), but also with better self-perceived overall health. The same applies to people with a better knowledge of food, its composition and its effect on the body.
A new cross-sectional study involving experts from Ibn Tofaïl University in Morocco examined the relationship between nutritional knowledge, adherence to a Mediterranean diet and self-rated general health. The results can be read in the specialist journal “Human Nutrition & Metabolism”.
Almost 1,800 students surveyed
A total of 1,776 students took part in the current study. They were asked to answer validated questionnaires designed to determine nutritional knowledge and possible adherence to a Mediterranean diet, according to the team.
In addition, the participants were asked to self-report their perceived general health status and so-called anthropometric measurements.
What are anthropometric measurements?
Anthropometric measurements refer to the measurement and analysis of human body dimensions to obtain information about the physical size, shape and composition of the human body. These include, for example, body weight, waist circumference and height.
Many participants had weight problems
According to the researchers, 23.1 percent of the participants suffered from overweight and four percent of the students examined were affected by obesity. The surveys also showed that around 52 percent of the participants rated their general health as mediocre or even poor.
Benefits of the Mediterranean diet
Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was positively correlated with nutritional knowledge and inversely correlated with BMI. In addition, it was found that non-overweight participants had significantly higher scores for nutritional knowledge and adherence to the Mediterranean diet than overweight or obese participants, according to the research team.
Another finding was that non-smokers generally had higher levels of nutritional knowledge than smoking participants, the researchers added.
In terms of health status, the team found that participants’ self-assessment as fair or poor was also associated with significantly lower nutritional knowledge scores and also with poorer adherence to a Mediterranean diet.
Ultimately, a higher level of nutritional knowledge and adherence to a Mediterranean diet were associated not only with a lower BMI, but also with a better self-assessment of one’s own general health, the experts summarize.
Positive effects on health
Overall, the study suggests that general health status is positively related to nutritional knowledge and adherence to a Mediterranean diet, which is also consistent with the results of previous studies that found, for example, that a Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. Reduced circulatory diseases and premature death. (as)